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Barnardos Footpath Refresher


The footpath, between Wighill Lane and Wetherby Road by way of the viaduct in Tadcaster, was used regularly by walkers, cyclists, and schoolchildren until it was blocked by a wall built by the landowners in February 2012.

Firstly I’d like to make a point of this – The new landowner bought an abandoned building with grounds to do with has he pleased. If you bought a house in Tadcaster which had a front gate and a back gate which people used for 15 years as a shortcut whilst the building was empty, would you let them continue to do so once you’d moved in and your children were playing in the garden? NO! of course you wouldn’t.

BUT! because the new landowner was Samuel Smith’s brewery everyone had to point the finger and blame Mr Humphrey Smith for the closure of the footpath. Over the past 3 years the opinions have gone from blaming Humphrey Smith directly to blaming him indirectly through the brewery – now it seems that the blame lies with the landowner’s newly appointed group called “Wharfebanks” which as we have been informed is a wholly owned subsidiary Samuel Smith brewery.

I have spoken to people casually about the blocked access through the old Barnardos grounds this year and during the town inquiry, most still say that Humphrey Smith is to blame as he wants to be the “Lord of the manor” (I heard this term used on several occasions over the past 3 years), also that Mr Smith bought it because he probably couldn’t get his way on some other matter so he’d done it out of spite. Some of the people who had opinions based the whole episode on the Council’s dislike to Mr Smith and probably wouldn’t even been here if it had been any other land owner or business which were involved.

Now I can only have my opinion so don’t ask me to name names of all the different people I spoke to as I have no idea, these chats took place in shops, pubs, restaurants, passing comments, bus stops and even doctors surgeries.

Actually talking about this does bring one thing about the inquiry to mind and has bugging me for a few days. I’ll try and explain this as best as I can but I’ve never studied law! Last week witnesses were called to give evidence based on paperwork written up by a Mr Jacobie (please excuse the spelling) of the Wharfedale legal team, these people had been summonsed to give evidence from signed statements which had been written for them – but NEVER signed! Now unless i’ve missed out the basic concept of a statement here, a statement always needs to be signed and witnessed before it becomes a legal statement. So it’s a bit like asking you to give evidence as a third party, why not get Mr Jacobie to read all of these statements out himself?

In last weeks hearing two witnesses were asked to read from the statement of an ex Barnardos employee to jog their memory to signs, gates and fences… So was that statement written by the person in question of by someone from the Wharfebank Legal team? Just asking the question as it seems that the term “witness statement” doesn’t carry true here! Any statements used by the CPS (Crown prosecution Service) must be signed and verified.

See also – Requirement to serve witness statements for use at trial… 32.4 (1) A witness statement is a written statement signed by a person which contains the evidence which that person would be allowed to give orally.

Campaigner Patrick Tunney said: “The path was used by many people for a very long time and it is almost a lifeline between one side of the town and the other.

“If we are successful it will be a reinstatement of what was the status quo and we are hoping the inspector will see the reasoning behind it and be able to award in our favour accordingly.

“We have put a lot of work into this and we knew it was not going to be easy. As a member of the community I owe it to others to try and have it reopened.”

The Wetherby News has learned that the fight against the closure of the path will be based on two criteria: the common law on the existence of a right of way and proof of 20 years’ use.

This statement comes from the Wetherby News 22nd January 2015…

Again, I’m not in anyone’s corner but reading this new clipping made me think… I don’t think anyone is disputing that the area in question was used as a footpath for over 20 years but whether you’re the first to trespass or the last person to trespass it’s still trespassing on someones property after all… As for proof that people used it as a cut through, why bother? people are at the Riley Smith Hall currently stating that they used it as far back as the 80’s. The second criteria: the common law on the existence of a right of way… I’ve checked with the Ordnance Survey maps and see no listing for a public footpath through that area. So from this paragraph I came to the conclusion that it’s a bit of a joke really to say that thousands of people have been using the cut through for so many years that they rightfully own it – Sorry if the Members of the action group in Tadcaster, Bernard Walford, Patrick Tunney, and Linda Bould don’t agree with me on this but it is private land as far as I can see…

 They used it for recreation and exercise, they used it to go to school, and they used it to go to work. Right up until the route was closed off by a new landowner, NYCC was making plans with the previous landowner to open up a path as a cycle route across the river and a safe route to school.

Another clip from the same article…

If the previous owner was making plans to open up a path as a cycle path across the river for a safe way to school! was this discussed during the purchase of the property with the new land owner? If there was a mention of such plans then surely the email records and a statement from the seller would clear up this part. As we all know too well, just because someone has plans with their property, when they sell it the new owner has the right to change their mind…

Has the council approached the land owner and asked if the footpath was still a possibility? Has the council offered to buy a stretch of land 15 feet wide to turn into the required footpath from the land owner? Because all of this messing around of “he said she said” is going to get nowhere soon, and probably end up costing the residents of Tadcaster for the bill from the 3 week inquiry.

You never know, they have called witnesses who are pro the footpath so they may call Humphrey Smith himself to make a statement (it would be the fairest thing to do so that the people of Tadcaster could hear the reasons for themselves…

Well that’s my say for now, remember these are my opinions and summaries and should no be taken as literal as there may be flaws in the spellings etc! Hope to see more of the Tadcaster Residents at the Riley Smith Hall this coming week.

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